Plaintiff in this case was a 30-year-old woman who sought treatment at an educational training institute which provided low cost psychotherapy for the indigent.
Plaintiff at the time was a college student and was suffering through a depression and could not afford anything more than the $25-a-visit therapy provided by trainees at the school.
Plaintiff, who was a deeply religious woman, began therapy with one of the interns at the school, who convinced her that her religious beliefs were source of her problems and that she would benefit by a sexual relationship with him. Plaintiff alleged that a brief sexual relationship commenced and that she suffered severe injuries as a result of the relationship and that she was only “saved” from suicide by becoming more deeply involved in her religion.
The alleged perpetrator denied the misconduct and the school denied responsibility on the basis that it had no notice of any problems with the intern and without notice, the school could not be held responsible. Further, the defendant claimed that plaintiff did not suffer any injury and, in fact, was better off after the therapy because of her deeper commitment to something which was very important to her: her religion.
The defendant refused to offer any money to settle the case to a prior lawyer and the plaintiff was referred to the law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP. The law firm was able to produce evidence that tended to indicate that the sexual relationship did occur (roommate was located after extensive investigation that placed plaintiff and defendant together in her bedroom) and that the school took inadequate steps to monitor its students as they performed psychotherapy on patients, essentially without a license.
Further, although it appeared on the outside that plaintiff had actually done well since the psychotherapy since she succeeded in school and became more comforted by religion and had a good job, in fact she suffered a deep sense of betrayal and psychological injury which she kept from the outside world, which showed upon on thorough psychological testing.
RESULT: Settlement on behalf of plaintiff for $300,000